NPR

5 Tips For Buying a Car The Smart Way

So you're thinking about buying a new car? NPR's Life Kit has your back. Here are the most important things to know so you don't get in over your head or let a car dealer take advantage of you.
Source: Will Sanders/Stone/Getty Images Plus

New cars these days have better safety features and more tech gizmos than models from a decade ago. And let's face it, trading in a beat up clunker with grimy seats is an enticing idea.

But many Americans make big mistakes buying cars. Take new car purchases with a trade in. A third of buyers roll over an average of $5,000 in debt from their last car into their new loans. They're paying for a car they don't drive anymore. Ouch! That is not a winning personal finance strategy.

But don't worry, NPR's Life Kit is here to help. Here's how to buy a car without getting over your head in debt or paying more than you have to.

1. Get pre-approved for a loan before you set foot in a dealer's lot

"The single best advice I can give to people is to get pre-approved for a car loan from your bank a credit union or an online lender," says Philip Reed. He's the autos editor at the personal finance site Nerd Wallet. He also worked under-cover at an auto dealership to learn the secrets of the business when he worked for the car buying site Edmunds. So Reed is going to pull back the curtain on the car buying game.

For one

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